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So you are thinking about buying a used car but aren’t sure what to look for to make sure you aren’t getting a lemon. It’s true, buying a used car might save you money, but it also may come with surprises.

To avoid ending up with a lemon, keep these four things in mind as you begin your search for the perfect “new” car to you.

What To Look For When Buying A Used Car

Take A Test Drive

It’s always best to take the car on a test drive on both local roads and highways and be sure to drive in the same conditions that you will normally drive day-to-day.

By driving in different environments you can get a good feel for how the car responds and performs. On local roads, you can feel how the car shifts and responds to sharp turns. You’ll also get an idea on the condition of the brakes with stop-and-go driving conditions. With a trip on the highway, you can see if the engine runs smoothly or not.

While on a test drive, keep your eyes and ears open. Make sure to note any unusual engine or brake noises, and whether or not all of the electronics in the car are working properly.

Perform A Leak Test

When thinking about what to look for when buying a used car, don’t forget to park the car and let it idle for 30 seconds, then pull forward and see if anything leaked.

Leaks can be a dead giveaway something is wrong and you may want to either move on or have a mechanic check the car further before buying.

Read Reviews On The Make And Model

Use your internet sleuthing skills to find consumer reviews of the make and model. While you’re online, compare prices from several sources.

Checking sites like Kelley Blue Book alongside dealer prices can simply be done online as most dealerships will list prices on their websites. Even though condition and mileage will play a role in price, you can still get a ballpark figure of what the price should be.

Review the Vehicle History Report

If the car has any skeletons in its closet, a vehicle history report may help you find them. When you are thinking about what to look for when buying a used car, accidents should be a red flag.

A reputable dealership should already have this information provided for you, but if not readily available, you can ask the dealership to give you the CARFAX report to see if any accidents are in the vehicle’s history.

Don’t Rush In

The biggest thing to remember when thinking about what to look for when buying a used car is that you don’t want to rush in.

Take your time, do the research, and in the end make sure you are happy with the decision.


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